“The sessions help to really set me up for the day, and they make me feel so much better”

After receiving support from Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice's Inpatient Unit following surgery in 2019, Steph Brooks, 51, started attending the Day Hospice that has since adapted to a new virtual service due to the pandemic.

Here, Steph explains how the support and social connections made through the virtual service has been crucial during lockdown.

A laptop showing a Zoom call from the Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice day hospice team

Steph was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016, but first received inpatient care at the hospice following surgery to have a brain tumour removed in 2019.

After she was discharged, Steph attended Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court’s Day Hospice. However, when the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic services suspended Day Hospice sessions, the hospice team developed a special programme to deliver care virtually instead.

“The sessions give me a purpose to get up and get dressed”

And Steph attends weekly Zoom sessions to help keep her safe and well at home.

“The sessions give me a purpose to get up and get dressed - which can be hard to do in this most recent national lockdown when the weather is so grim!” says Steph.

“I first got involved with the Virtual Day Hospice programme in autumn last year. Since then, I’ve attended a number of sessions on ways to manage fatigue and tips on doing exercise. You can pick which sessions to join based on what will help you. Each session offers useful tips on how to deal with things.”

“I attended a session the other day giving tips on how to prevent falling over, and I’ve attended one talking about our thoughts, hope and dreams. It’s so varied.”

“I really enjoy the sessions. I love the social aspect of virtually meeting and speaking to people. It gives me something to look forward to each week. It gives me a routine, especially when there is not much else going on right now.

“The sessions help to really set me up for the day, and they make me feel so much better. After I log off the sessions I feel good.”

Creating social connections

The Virtual Day Hospice programme also gives patients the opportunity to make social connections with others while the pandemic continues to keep people apart.

“I really enjoy joining in the regular Friday morning social drop-ins on Zoom. It’s so lovely to see other patients and volunteers and have a chat together,” Steph adds.

“You have to get used to not all talking at once on Zoom, but once you do it’s great. We talk about what we’ve been up to during the week, our hobbies, our families and what’s good on the TV.  My 17 year old cat, Chloe, sometimes makes an appearance. In fact she has become a bit of a regular on our Zoom calls, she will come and sit on my lap to say hello to everyone.”

Photo of Steph's cat, Zoe, who is a regular on the virtual day hospice calls too
Steph's cat, Zoe, is a popular member of the virtual Day Hospice Zoom calls

Easy, accessible and expert virtual support

Steph hopes more people in Gloucestershire receiving palliative care will be encouraged to find out more about the Virtual Day Hospice service, which is easy to set up and access.

“All you need is a tablet, laptop or even a smart phone to join the sessions. You download the Zoom app, the hospice emails you a code for the meeting, you put the code in, press join with audio and video and that’s it – away you go.”

“For my first session, my youngest son showed me how to set everything up, but now I know what I am doing they leave me to it.”

“It really is very easy to take part and it is so much better than being sat at home looking at the four walls.”

“My friends think it’s great that I’m still receiving support from Sue Ryder and I think it’s just marvellous. I can’t praise Sue Ryder enough for the continued support they’re giving me.”

Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice’s virtual day service programme helps people living in Gloucestershire with a palliative diagnosis keep safe and supported at home, whilst reducing social isolation.

The virtual sessions are run by a team of experts at the hospice including Sue Ryder Nurses, Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists, Family Support Team and trained volunteers to help manage symptoms and improve people’s wellbeing.

An individualised programme

The fully individualised programme is made up of community visits to patients' homes where required, video or telephone one-to-ones and a series of virtual sessions covering topics like fatigue, relaxation, breathlessness, exercise, safety and falls prevention, spiritual and psychological support, a weekly virtual social drop in, plus ‘Writing for Wellbeing’ and ‘Recorded Life Stories’.

The virtual programme was created as the hospice pivoted its service to make sure people could continue to receive its expert support, even during lockdown.

If you would like to make a referral to the Virtual Day Hospice, first speak with your lead healthcare professional, GP or consultant or email our Day Hospice team for more details.

Thanks to fundraising efforts in support of Sue Ryder, the Virtual Day Hospice service is given free of charge to people with life-limiting conditions, improving their wellbeing and helping them to feel less isolated at home.

Find further information on Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice, the specialist palliative care they provide and ways you can help to support them.

Support our Virtual Day Hospice

Your donations help us to continue providing our Virtual Day Hospice service during these difficult times, for people living with a life-limiting condition and requiring palliative care in Gloucestershire.

Steph Brooks

Day hospice patient

Steph Brooks

Steph first received inpatient care at Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice following surgery to remove a brain tumour in 2019. After she was discharged, Steph attended their Day Hospice. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, Steph has continued receiving support through their adapted Virtual Day Hospice programme.